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LWN.net Weekly Edition for May 16, 2013
A look at the PyPy 2.0 release
PostgreSQL 9.3 beta: Federated databases and more
LWN.net Weekly Edition for May 9, 2013
(Nearly) full tickless operation in 3.10
Posted Nov 10, 2012 6:26 UTC (Sat) by drag (subscriber, #31333)
Posted Nov 10, 2012 6:41 UTC (Sat) by bojan (subscriber, #14302)
Posted Nov 11, 2012 11:52 UTC (Sun) by pizza (subscriber, #46)
I fail to understand this obsession with remoting entire desktops when you can fire up any application you want, remotely, and just use that.
Posted Nov 11, 2012 13:21 UTC (Sun) by cortana (subscriber, #24596)
xpra disclaimer: I've tried it, it doesn't work *for me*, probably because the version I'm trying is a bit too old. I am encouraged that its success demonstrates that Wayland will drastically improve remote working on Linux systems.
Posted Nov 11, 2012 22:14 UTC (Sun) by bojan (subscriber, #14302)
Your suggestion is a bit like that of late Steve Jobs during the antenna problems with iPhone 4 - just don't hold it that way. Really?
Posted Nov 12, 2012 3:02 UTC (Mon) by pizza (subscriber, #46)
Of course, in the real world, what actually happens is that old systems are never replaced, only stacked upon, which is why my local auto parts store have POS terminals running fancy web-based UI running on an in-store server which just translates everything into a console/textual terminal session, which in turn tunnels over IP (instead to replace dedicated POTS phone lines) to a decades-old inventory-management application running on an emulator running on an IBM mainframe (which itself may be emulated...)
And of course, the source code to all of those intermediate components is long gone, so no changes could be made even if they were willing to risk breaking the whole stack to improve the efficiency of even one component.
Fortunately, the Free Software Movement is braver than that. Which is how we have the likes of KDE4, Gnome3. And KDE3, Gnome2/MATE/Cinnamon, and XFCE, Enlightenment, and many, many others.
We control the entire stack by virtue of having full source code to everything, and the rights to change it however we like. It's downright stupid to cripple our primary advantage by treating any part of that stack as a sacred cow that can't be slaughtered.
Posted Nov 12, 2012 13:03 UTC (Mon) by nix (subscriber, #2304)
Posted Nov 10, 2012 18:42 UTC (Sat) by deepfire (subscriber, #26138)
Posted Nov 11, 2012 12:04 UTC (Sun) by pizza (subscriber, #46)
And the X800, also eight years old, is a full *seven* generations old now, and the last two (or three?) generations of even integrated Intel graphics is both more powerful and more capable.
Modern Linux Desktop Environments actually use the capabilities of semi-modern graphics hardware.
Posted Nov 11, 2012 22:21 UTC (Sun) by bojan (subscriber, #14302)
Posted Nov 12, 2012 2:46 UTC (Mon) by pizza (subscriber, #46)
Only in la-la land (and Debian) is the answer "don't decide, and just go with all of the above."
"Running optimally" on modern graphics hardware means that you still have to support obsolete graphics hardware, which means your entire decision/design tree has to incorporate that. It's double to triple the initial amount of design/coding work, and exponentially increases the support cost, and does not gain them anything significant on their strategic long-term goals of building a kick-ass *desktop* environment.
They decided to focus their effort into building a single opengl-driven path. For a fallback for completely obsolete hardware, a pure software opengl rasterizer would be used, keeping the complexity at the natural component boundaries, rather than have to have the entire stack aware of everything else. It's sound software engineering practice.
We're at the same situation with desktop 3D as we were in the earlier days of Linux-wireless, before there was solid internal infrastructure and enough common code to make things consistent. Each driver had its quirks, so all applications had to know about those quirks to ensure consistent end-user behaviour.
NetworkManager was a major disruption, because its maintainer took it upon himself to actually fix the underlying buggy drivers so they all behaved in a consistent manner. This is where the Gnome3 folks are at now; a great deal of work is going on behind the scenes to drag the 3D stack kicking and screaming into the modern era.
This means prioritizing development effort -- fix the backend bugs, and everyone benefits in the end, rather than work around the backend bugs, and do three times as much work each time something new comes along.
(and as an aside, modern hardware doesn't even have any sort of 2D engine beyond a dumb framebuffer any more; do we "emulate" the old 2D stuff via the 3D engine, or target the future, and make everything 3D which vastly reduces the overall amount of work necessary?)
Posted Nov 12, 2012 9:50 UTC (Mon) by bojan (subscriber, #14302)
Posted Nov 12, 2012 13:08 UTC (Mon) by nix (subscriber, #2304)
But if you do that on x86, you break the BIOS. So video cards on x86 keep dragging around at least VGA text mode (and probably the whole panoply of even more ancient CGA/EGA/Hercules-compatible text modes and a bunch of VESA modes too).
Now you'd think EFI BIOS would give a chance to fix this -- only my new machine's EFI BIOS boots up in VGA text mode! So it doesn't look to me like VGA text mode is disappearing any time soon, and i fthat's not vanishing I suspect the 2D layer is sticking around too, even if in emulation, even if as merely a dumb framebuffer.
Posted Nov 12, 2012 17:59 UTC (Mon) by drag (subscriber, #31333)
Any part of the '2D acceleration hardware' has been gone for a while now. At least from modern hardware. Any sort of acceleration support based on 2D hardware is done through emulation, if it exists at all.
VGA mode and such things are more related to modesetting which is a bit orthogonal to that issue.
Modesetting issues were one of the biggest, if not the biggest, reasons to keep the old driver framework inherited from XFree86. Without modesetting support you couldn't really display anything useful on the display, especially if your display isn't one of the 'standard' resolutions and support for that resolution wasn't programmed into the BIOS (a typical issue on old pre-GMA Intel IGP laptops)
Now that mode setting has moved to the kernel rather then in the XServer having the Xserver direct access to hardware or their own special drivers is more of a detriment then anything else. Hopefully Wayland turns into a usable solution for running X applications on Linux since it will simplify the driver situation quite a bit.
Posted Nov 12, 2012 17:44 UTC (Mon) by drag (subscriber, #31333)
I use one of those low-end AMD Fusion laptop. One of those were the CPU and GPU are integrated together. Gnome 3 runs as well on that system as any desktop, thank-you-very-much.
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